Round 6 – Collingwood v Hawthorn: Give Clarko the Whistle.


Collingwood vs Hawthorn

7:50 pm, Friday, 10 July 2020

Sydney Showground and Dog Trials Stadium, Sydney


Dan Hansen                                                                      


Back in my under 12 days our coach, Garry Stewart, would every now and then do a half field match simulation drill whereby every one of the twenty or so kids would play their regular positions. That is, our usual full back would line up on our full forward in the goal square, the two back pockets would stand the two forward pockets somewhere near the behind posts etcetera. The idea was get a bit of realistic match style practice whereby everyone played their positions. Garry would grab a whistle and throw the ball up near the centre and the two ruckmen would complete. The ball would hit the grass and suddenly there were twenty plus kids within fifteen metres of the ball. Garry would scream at us to go back to our positions and give out random free kicks to get the ball moving. A  few of the fathers stood in front of club house waiting for training to be over. It’s quite funny how these random memories are evoked.


At about 3pm on Friday I received a call from Tim, a Collingwood supporting friend, who had a spare ticket and asked if I wanted to go to the football with another friend called Gavin. Other than a few Zoom beers I hadn’t socialised with anyone outside immediate family since the lockdown began in March. I also thought this could be my only opportunity to go to a game this year so I said I was keen and would take the ticket.


There had been a bit of a build up to the game. A few weeks ago Alistair Clarkson bagged the spectacle of the 2019 game and complained about the lack of holding the ball decisions. According to Clarkson the umpires should award more free kicks in order to speed up the game. He particularly focused on the lack of holding the ball decisions. Even Gil McLachlan joined in and agreed there should be more holding the ball decisions given. The following week Hawthorn didn’t receive a single free kick for holding the ball.


Collingwood also had a few issues. Jordan De Goey was omitted after he was forcibly removed from the Collingwood bubble. And then there was Steele Sidebottom. One of the smartest on field footballers in the game Sidebottom decided to channel his inner Brodie Holland by getting intoxicated and catching an Uber during the midst of Melbourne’s second wave. To top it off a statement by Eddie Maguire a few months ago surfaced where Eddie proclaims the next player to break the Covid-19 protocols should be fined $100,000 and receive a season-long suspension. Instead of booking a meeting with Buckley and Sidebottom explaining why he can’t look like a hypocrite Eddie delivered an eight minute back-pedalling dialogue where he did a remarkable impersonation of Luke McGregor.


This gave Collingwood the opportunity to blood a few new kids. First there was Will Kelly, the son of 1990 Collingwood premiership player, Craig Kelly, and brother of current Crows player Jake Kelly. As my friend Tim said, Collingwood weren’t forced to draft an ordinary brother in order to get the good one, unlike they did with the Clokes. I maintain the only good Cloke is the one which makes Harry Potter invisible. That said, young Will looked the goods. Taller than his brother and slimmer and faster than his father he played quite well, even kicking a goal, before tragically going off with a pretty serious looking arm injury. The other new debutant was Atu Bosenavulagi. When I asked Gavin who the new kid with the fancy footwork was he told me his name was Bossanovalagi which seemed more apt. Either way he looked like he belonged out there and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot more of him during the season.


These were the two positive aspects of the game. Other than the debutants the game was a travesty. Clarkson is right, Hawthorn are a terrible team to watch. I wonder if he has worked out who can fix this problem yet. Hawthorn’s persistence to not take any risks and chip the ball around as much as possible was only surpassed by Collingwood’s determination to get as many players behind the ball and to get their defensive structures right. When Hawthorn had the ball it was like watching a sloth versus a boa constrictor in slow motion. The only saving grace was that when Collingwood did have the ball they did try to get it into their forward line with a modicum of urgency.


At one stage Hawthorn were chipping the ball around the centre wing area and all eighteen Collingwood players were in the forty metre area ahead of the ball. The crowd were showing little interest and talking about lockdowns, their children, intended holidays, Kardashians, whatever. Anything and everything other than the game. When Hawthorn eventually produced a turnover and one of their players was tackled with the ball without prior opportunity one of the Collingwood supporters yelled out “Give Clarko the whistle, he’d have given that holding the ball”. This was when the distant memories of my under 12 training sessions came flooding back. Yes, give Clarko the whistle and like Garry Stewart he may be able to open up the game and make Hawthorn watchable.


After the game it felt like my first night out in four months was a waste of a perfectly good “leave pass”. I offered Gavin a lift home so we trudged off to the outdoor carpark. The carpark was about twenty percent full and I thought it would take five minutes to get out. When we did finally get to the boom gate it took about two minutes to process my tap-and-go payment. In the end it took about one hour to get out of the carpark, however that was a lot more exciting than watching Hawthorn play.



COLLINGWOOD     5.1     6.5     7.8     8.11   (59)

HAWTHORN           1.0     2.1     2.2     3.9     (27)



Collingwood: Mihocek 4, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Kelly, Cox

Hawthorn: Smith, McEvoy, Gunston



Collingwood: Mihocek, Treloar, Grundy, Adams, Wills, Pendlebury

Hawthorn: Sicily, Smith, Morrison, Shiels, Day, Hardwick


Umpires: O’Gorman, Deboy, Ryan   Crowd: Not many, about enough to fill 20% of the outdoor carpark


OUR VOTES   3 Mihocek (Collingwood), 2 Treloar (Collingwood), 1 Grundy (Collingwood)





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  1. John Butler says

    Dan, a running subtext of the current season is big name coaches whose sides are finding the going tough seeking to create distractions. They would seem to have the footy media’s measure.


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